Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Find Magic Everywhere

When your job involves reading fairy tales at least three times a day, you start to view the world like one. I used to look for magic in the world, but lately, it just appears everywhere. We had a bunch of short willow branches in water from making pomlazka (willow whips, oh Central Europe) for Easter. I noticed that they were starting to bud and thought they would make a beautiful little fairy house. I stuck them into the ground to make a little hut. I explained to the children that this will attract the fairies to our garden as long as we took good care of it. As soon as I explained this to one student, he went and found flowers to put on top. Another found an empty snail shell while a third (for reasons I don't quite understand) sifted some small stones out of the sand table to put in the house. I then went around and collected the snails from all over the garden. I placed them in the house, explaining that the fairies ride on snails like we ride on horses. This also kept the snails safe from little feet that are wont to trod on them. Accidentally squishing a garden snail is much more heartbreaking than accidentally squishing a spider. The look of horror on one boy's face when he stepped on a chestnut that he thought was a snail was reason enough to corral the little guys.

But the fairy house quickly became known the the children as the snail house. "Šnek šnek šnek!" seems to be all I hear in the garden these days. They love to look in on the snails, give them little things to eat, and place flowers on the top of their house. The snails, to me, are magical little creatures in their own right, even if we've forgotten about the fairies who ride on them. My only previous knowledge of garden snails from Strawberry Shortcake. Snails, to me, were always aquatic and less than adorable. So, to see real life eye stalks is like stepping into a fairy tale!

I watch them and can't help but imagine being a fairy or Strawberry Shortcake riding on them myself. I recognize that in reality, it might be less than thrilling to ride on a snail, no matter how small I might be, but but... the eye stalks! They wiggle around and when they poke something, they go back in or wrap around it. They're incredible! And I've got about thirty more snail pictures, but I'll leave the šneky for another time.

Sometimes, magic comes in the form of an ambrosian Sunday morning cocktail. The Magical Mermaid Mimosa was born out of the desire to have root beer floats at brunch. Unfortunately, root beer does not exist here and vanilla ice cream is scarce (or topped with things). So, I picked up orange soda and strawberry ice cream one morning and figured it would do. It certainly did. We discussed how to make this delightful drink a bit more... alcoholic. Vodka? No. Rum? Perhaps. Tequila? Yes, but it is Sunday morning. So, champagne! Thus was born the Magical Mermaid Mimosa. Champagne, orange soda, and strawberry ice cream. "This is what girls in frilly pink dresses grow up to drink!" said Lauren.

It was hard to get a picture that properly showed the beautiful foam on the Magical Mermaid Mimosa or how it made one feel like one had just stepped into a victorian fairy tale, but this does show it a bit. Lauren coined the term Magical Mermaid Mimosa and later on I thought more about the use of "mermaid" here. In Hans Christen Andersen's original Little Mermaid, sea people live three hundred years but have no immortal soul, as humans do. So when they die, their spirit doesn't rise into the ether. They simply turn into foam and float on the sea. The foam on top of the Magical Mermaid Mimosa is like the sea foam that holds the essence of such magical creatures.

(Thanks to Jess for her M.M.M. photos)

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